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Agency opens up discussion on domestic violence

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 6:24 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Domestic Violence Awareness Month is approaching.

Many questions are raised as the search continues for Brian Laundrie.

Laundrie was the last person seen with Gabby Petito, his fiance.

The questions surfaced after bodycam footage was released of the interaction between Utah police and Petito.

Vicki Nelms is executive director for the Family Crisis Center in Jonesboro.

Family and friends of Petito have talked about claims of domestic violence between the couple.

Nelms was shown the bodycam footage to get her professional feedback on the issue.

“Also, it does kind of appear that she is apologetic for his misstep in handling the vehicle, which she acknowledges to the officer, which is unusual,” said Nelms. “There are definitely some signs that this could be a domestic situation.”

The agency serves seven counties across Northeast Arkansas.

Last year, it helped around 600 victims of domestic violence.

Nelms said those numbers show just how important their work is to the community.

“Our services are critical to those experiencing domestic violence. Just last year alone, we provided services to over 600 individuals just in our seven-county target area of Northeast Arkansas,” she said.

Nelms spoke about red flags and options for people who may be involved in a domestic violence situation.

“Red flags to look for would include, isolation. If you notice that someone in a relationship has stopped communicating with or quit spending time with their family and friends,” said Nelms.

She also added that controlling actions and abuse are other red flags of domestic violence situations.

The agency provides multiple services to help people like counseling, a 24-hour hotline service, legal advocacy, and a shelter for victims.

“There is always a professionally trained advocate on the other end of that line, who can provide guidance and assistance and just support. You don’t even have to say who you are if you are not ready,” she said.

Nelms said they have a lot planned for October to bring more awareness to domestic violence and to inform the community on options to find help.

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